Cybersecurity is taking its rightful place at the forefront of the American military. In the 21st century, computers are the tip of the spear and the Coast Guard is doing its part to keep America safe. One Coast Guard member at the forefront of operations is Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Morton. Morton works for U.S. Cyber Command, also known as USCYBERCOM, with the Department of Defense. As an intelligence specialist, she helps analyze incoming information and briefs the command on threats and concerns to our cybersecurity. How does one get into Coast Guard intelligence? Morton joined the Coast Guard in 2006 after graduating from college with a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice. She wanted to get some law enforcement experience but now intends to stick around and make the service her career. Morton’s service began as a young boatswain’s mate on a patrol boat. In this role, boatswain’s mates often interpret intelligence about the movement of drugs, illegal fishing and illegal migrants. Morton loved the work and decided to apply for a change in rate, from boatswain’s mate to intelligence specialist. All intelligence specialists don’t work in cyber defense though, in fact, an exceptional few do. Morton graduated Intelligence Specialist “A” School at just the right time to break into this burgeoning field. “I chose USCYBERCOM from our list of billets knowing that I would be able to get cutting edge training and great working experience,” said Morton.
Her instincts were spot on. The assymetric threats we face in the 21st century can come from anywhere around the globe. Any individual, with the right computer and the right skills, can cause immense damage.
That’s why the Coast Guard is working with DoD and partner agencies to ensure the nation is able to defend itself against cyberthreats. Morton is one of about 20 Coast Guard members to sign on with the department during 2011 under the joint command. All five services are working together to defend America’s networks. Morton and her colleagues work in intelligence analysis, operations, and technical support. In addition to the Washington, D.C. element, there are Coast Guardsmen across the nation working in cyber defense as well. So what’s a typical day like for Morton in Coast Guard cyberdefense? “For me personally I was just transitioned off of the operations watch floor where things could get pretty hectic depending on what was happening [on] any given day, just like any Coast Guard watch floor. Now a workday consists of going through sources to find material that might be relevant and interesting to my command and putting together briefings or other products to alert my command and others in the intelligence community about cyber [security] issues.” As the threats to America become more opaque and cyberattacks become a greater threat, the Coast Guard and USCYBERCOM will continue to work together for America’s security.